One of the core foundations of reggio is using a classroom space to teach. You can enrich the children’s education by creating a rich classroom.
When you are setting up your own classroom space you can utilize natural barriers and boundaries to create different sections in the room. Every classroom should have at least these 5 centers- quiet space/circle time, dramatic play, engineering, table tops, and teacher storage. If you have a larger classroom you may also want a space for sensory, math, literacy, art, gardening, or anything that you especially enjoy teaching children. Be mindful of what sections are close together. Keeping blocks and literacy separate is important because the moods and play of those areas is so different.
Your barriers can be rugs, low cabinets, partitions, baskets, or any natural curves to the classroom. It is very important that you can see the entire classroom from any position, so don’t use tall dividers you can’t see through.
When you stock your centers you want to use materials and equipment that will lend themselves to further learning. Start with what you find personally exciting, and them let the personalities in your class dictate the equipment. Where you can, use real items like dishes, and natural materials from nature. Teach the children to respect and care for the classroom equipment. You want ample materials, not abundant. When you notice a certain item isn’t being enjoyed rotate it. Clean the materials, and store them outside of the children’s view in your teacher area, or supply room. Replace the items with something new and exciting. This keeps your class fresh, and keeps your children engaged. It’s also a chance to break the cycle of how certain toys are played with.
In a reggio center the language we use matters. It sets the tone of the classroom, and how the children communicate with each other. We want to speak in positive phrases, utilizing positive redirection. Ask the children questions and use phrases that get them thinking about their work. “You worked hard on that.” “What colors did you use?” “How tall is that tower?” “Tell me about it.” “Do you love it?” “How does it make you feel?” We don’t want to prompt them, lead their thoughts about their work, or have have seek our approval.
It is important that the mood and tone of the class is calm. Everyone should use normal inside voices. Preschoolers are quickly overwhelmed by too much noise. Take into consideration the time of day and activity. Early in the morning, or just after nap we should be a little calmer and quieter than normal. During music and movement we want to be animated, but not shouting or out of control. Our students will reflect us. If we feel calm and collected during the day, the students will too. When we get silly, they do the same. We are literally leading the class, as the students follow our lead.